Foreign Policy, in collaboration with The Fund for Peace, has posted their 6th annual analysis of the most vulnerable states in the world.  One can’t help but cringe at the biblical/apocalyptic references:  “In the Beginning, There was Somalia,” and “Postcards from Hell.”  And critics have noted that one man’s hell is another man’s donkey cart.  Yet… you will “know hell when you see it.”  I’ve been to more than half a dozen of the countries in the top (or bottom) 30.  There’s a difference between poverty and not having a flat screen TV; between law and justice and a police state; between development and decay.

Mugabe

But the list also should make us ask a number of other questions, like: Why are about 45% of the world’s most vulnerable states on the continent of Africa?  Why have former Soviet satellites like Kyrgistan, Tajikistan and Georgia fared so poorly in the three decades since their independence?  Does the Palestine-Israel (FP prefers “Israel-West Bank”) conflict impact other “vulnerable” nations in the Middle East?  Does US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan?  How have “acts of God” brought instability on Southeast Asia?

The editors leave behind their biblical assignations for “The Bad Guys” issue: a survey of the dictators and tyrants who’ve done so much to destroy the lives of so many.  Yet here is where unflinching evil resides:  Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe who’s run the economy below ground and bought votes with goats; North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, who’s imprisoned hundreds of thousands, and starved more; and Ethiopia’s Meles Zenawi who’s channelled millions of dollars into his own pockets while his countrymen starve in the gutters surrounding his palace.

The Foreign Policy list reveals some other fascinating things:  the US is behind 19 other countries as least vulnerable, including Singapore, Japan and Australia.  Eight of the top ten countries are European.